10 tips for finding your financial soulmate this February

There are important factors to think about before choosing a financial adviser. File photo.

There are important factors to think about before choosing a financial adviser. File photo.

Published Feb 28, 2024


February, regarded as the ‘'Month of Love“, is not just about the quest for the perfect romantic partner but also the ideal time to seek an advisory match made in financial heaven.

Old Mutual Personal Finance Certified Financial Planner Sean van Zyl says there are important factors to think about before choosing a financial adviser. Similar to finding a romantic partner, adviser-customer financial relationships require a solid foundation of trust and mutual understanding for long-term happiness and success.

“Much like the dating world, finding a financial adviser who clicks with you goes beyond surface-level attributes. It involves understanding one’s needs, goals, and the nuances of personal finance. A financial adviser should be someone you can trust, confide in and feel comfortable discussing your financial dreams and fears with. This connection is crucial for a successful financial partnership,” said van Zyl.

Van Zyl says the principles of finding love apply to choosing a financial adviser who isn’t just a service provider but a partner in achieving your financial dreams. Below, he identifies 10 criteria customers must use to establish if their future financial partner will be a match made in heaven or hell.

1. Connection is key

Like in love, the chemistry between customers and their financial adviser is essential. It helps to establish a personal connection between the customer and adviser as it plays a crucial role in the adviser being able to understand your goals and walk with you on your journey, providing guidance and education. An adviser should be competent and genuinely interested in your financial well-being, mirroring the dynamics of a healthy romantic relationship. They should be a listener, a confidante and a guide who can navigate the complexities of financial planning with your best interests at heart. A customer shouldn’t be told what to do, but must be empowered to make informed decisions.

2. Qualities of a lifelong partner

When selecting a financial adviser, look for qualities akin to those you’d appreciate in a life partner: honesty, transparency, reliability, understanding, emotional intelligence and demonstrating ethical behaviour. This can be identified to see what questions the adviser asks. If they jump straight into a sale without considering debt levels and goals, this could indicate the person isn’t the right one to partner with you.

In addition, their credentials, experience and ability to tailor advice to your unique financial situation are paramount. A good adviser possesses a comprehensive skill set and is adaptable, working alongside other professionals to ensure all aspects of your financial life are harmonised.

3. Building a trust-based relationship

Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship. Establishing trust with your financial adviser means having open conversations about fees, investment philosophies, and expectations. It’s about feeling confident that they are acting in your best interest without pushing unnecessary products or services for the sake of a sales commission.

4. Navigating the path together

It is crucial to find an adviser who understands your financial goals and can articulate a clear path towards achieving them. They should be able to provide insights and strategies tailored to your financial situation, offering clarity and guidance rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

5. Resources and platforms for the perfect match

Begin your search for the perfect financial adviser with reputable platforms and resources. Look for financial planning associations, online directories and platforms that vet financial professionals to ensure credibility and compatibility. Personal recommendations and reviews can also be invaluable in finding someone whose expertise and style match your needs.

6. Avoiding pitfalls

Beware of advisers who are quick to sell products without understanding your financial landscape, situation and goals. High-pressure tactics, lack of transparency about fees or an unwillingness to discuss their investment philosophy are red flags. An adviser’s eagerness to understand your financial situation and goals is as crucial as their credentials.

Secondly, don’t assume that choosing an independent adviser is automatically the right choice. Just because an adviser can offer multiple solutions, doesn’t mean they will offer the most suitable one. There is also a chance that their recommended products could be led by whatever pays the highest commission or fee.

7. Assessing credibility and expertise

To ensure you make a well-informed decision, inquire about an adviser’s qualifications, experience and approach to financial planning. Ask about their success stories and learn from their experiences – both good and bad. This insight can help gauge their ability to navigate challenges and adapt strategies to meet customers’ evolving needs.

8. Personal stories that matter

Personal anecdotes or experiences from advisers can highlight their approach to customer relationships and problem-solving. Such stories can provide a glimpse into how they might handle your financial planning, emphasising the importance of a personalised and empathetic approach. However, ensure that you don’t only get the good but also ask about past failures and bad experiences to get a more holistic picture of their temperament.

9. The role of trust

Trust in a financial advisory relationship enables open dialogue, mutual understanding and a shared commitment to achieving your financial goals. Building this trust involves regular communication, transparency and a genuine interest in your financial health.

10. Embarking on a journey together

As you venture into the world of financial planning, remember that finding the right adviser is a journey akin to finding a life partner. It requires patience, openness and a clear understanding of your financial goals and values. Setting annual assessment objectives reviewed at least once a year to ensure you are on course will ensure the relationship is on the right track. Finding a financial adviser who truly understands and aligns with your financial aspirations is crucial for long-term happiness and success.